May 16, 2011

Movie Monday: Expelled



Seriously, who doesn't love Ben Stein?

Unlike other documentaries about less complicated subjects, Stein uses fact, humor, and even incorporates the "commercial break" strategy to reach his intended audience. And "Expelled" was one of the most well-done documentaries I watched, as far as basic structure and delivery.

The overall context of the documentary is the debate between Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design. But the point of the documentary isn't to lay out the merits of Darwinism and Intelligent Design, although those are necessarily addressed. The point of the documentary is to expose the lack of freedom within the academic and scientific community when it comes to questioning the popular form of Darwinism.

We get to watch Stein in his tie and tennis shoes travel around the country and around the world as he shows case after case where scientists, educators and journalists were censured and blacklisted, not for teaching religious creationism (because they are not the same thing), but for - in some cases - simply saying in class that ID proponents have some valid questions.

The theme or motto of the docu is "Beware the sound of one hand clapping." That means, whenever there is one side to an argument, there is always bound to be another side, and in order to be honest you must at least acknowledge the other side as not only existing but as deserving of being in the conversation.

Now, there were some people on Netflix who left reviews trying to discredit the docu because they claimed that Stein says that all Darwinists are Nazis or something, and of course that's not the case. So don't let those reviews throw you.

As I said, as far as straight-up production value goes, this was one of the most well-done (and presumably well-budgeted) docus I watched. It's also the only one with a call to action at the end. Stein's goal with this docu is, again, not to persuade anyone against Darwinism and toward Intelligent Design. Rather, his goal is to show that there is a serious problem of group-think within the scientific/academic community, and that there is also a large, credentialed side outside that community that is neither stupid nor on a religious crusade. And at the end, he asks his viewers to join him in this mission.

Along those lines, I really don't want this post to turn into a science debate. Maybe one day I'll do a post where people can come on and debate different theories about the origins of life, but today, let's just keep it to opinions about the documentary, if that's possible, okay?

So, what did you think of the documentary as a documentary?

Honorable mention: The Story of Will Rogers. Narrated by Bob Hope, a biography about the famous cowboy comedian from - where else? - Oklahoma. It's only an hour long, made in 1961, so there's no fun cartoons or graphics, but with Will Rogers, you don't need them.

Next week's documentary: Fat Head


  1. oooh, I watched that documentary last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

  2. Ben Stein was my commencement speaker 2 years ago at Liberty University!!

  3. Its so true!! There is an immense and unfair amount of censorship in the education community. I attended a junior high and high school that was taught from a Christian perspective. Every single text book stated that and everyone who attended knew that. Despite it being a charter school, our director and president refused to take any funding from state or national government so they couldn't dictate in anyway, the things that were taught and in the way they were taught. Now it was in AZ and Janet Napolitano was governor. Gag me. She actually tried the entire time she was in office to get the school discredited and shut down but failed. Its sad that in the country where we're all about freedom and seeing things from many different perspectives and opinions, there is still a huge block up when it comes to diversity of teaching in the education world.

  4. The hubs and I watched this last year as well and thoroughly enjoyed it ... despite not being big documentary fans. As an engineering major in college (who had to take a lot of science classes as well), I saw this group-think occur first hand. It is just sad that in today's academia, there's no room for debate. I thought this movie helped present the issues in a well-thought out and entertaining manner.

  5. This is one of my favorite documentaries. Probably because Ben Stein is awesome;)

    I have definitely noticed the "group think" phenomena in the science community while in college. I have friends who were science majors {crazy people I tell ya} and they have said that they could not debate the issue at all in their classes.


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